Publication of first draft of the tree of life
We are excited to publish the first draft of the Open Tree of Life in PNAS:
Scientists have used gene sequences and morphological data to construct tens of thousands of evolutionary trees that describe the evolutionary history of animals, plants, and microbes. This study is the first, to our knowledge, to apply an efficient and automated process for assembling published trees into a complete tree of life. This tree and the underlying data are available to browse and download from the Internet, facilitating subsequent analyses that require evolutionary trees. The tree can be easily updated with newly published data. Our analysis of coverage not only reveals gaps in sampling and naming biodiversity but also further demonstrates that most published phylogenies are not available in digital formats that can be summarized into a tree of life.
This is only a first draft, and there are plenty of places where the tree does not represent what we know about phylogenetic relationships. We can improve this tree through incorporation of new taxonomic and phylogenetic data. Our data store of trees (which contains many more trees than are included in the draft tree of life) is also a resource for other analyses. If you want to contribute a published tree for synthesis (or for analyses of coverage, conflict, etc), you can upload it through our curation interface.
Other pages and links:
- supplemental doc with details about methods
- Dryad data package when you can download the taxonomy and the tree
- infographics about the tree of life
- interactive tree browser
- roundup of news coverage
Many thanks to all of the people that provided data, discussion, review, curation, and code and of course to NSF Biology for funding this work!